Boys hoops need two overtimes
While their game against East Stroudsburg North may not have been a clinic, the Whitehall boys basketball team persevered and found a way to win the consolation game of their annual Zephyr Holiday Classic.
It took two overtimes as the Zephyrs rebounded with a 65-63 victory over the visiting Timberwolves last Friday. The nightcap saw Faith Christian Academy- Sellersville and North Hunterdon High School tangle in another game that went overtime, with Faith Christian prevailing, 87-75 to win the Holiday Classic.
Whitehall lost its opener to the eventual champs, as there were slew by the Lions, 63-45. While they started out with a strong first quarter, taking a five-point lead into the second period, they were only able to muster four points in that pivotal frame as Faith Christian began to pull away, paving the way for the 18-point win.
Head coach Jeff Jones said that they came out and played well, but once the second period started, they had difficulty. It’s something that’s been a recurring theme, and he’s not sure why it’s happening.
“I can’t really answer that, why that is,” said Jones.
He also said that they were beaten in every facet of the game against the Lions.
“We didn’t shoot very well, we didn’t defend very well, we didn’t get to the line enough, we got beat in every aspect,” said Jones.
In Friday’s win over the Timberwolves, Jones said that they were also beaten in almost every aspect for the majority of the game, but they kept battling, keeping ESN within striking distance with a run.
“We hung around long enough to make it a game in the fourth quarter,” said Jones. “We had a couple of shots go our way. Dylan [McGinley] made a couple of big shots, Namirr Boatwright made a couple of big shots.”
Boatwright, who finished the tourney with 16 points, was named to the all-star team.
Jones said that they also pressured the ball with a tough man-to-man defense which helped them get the win.
Jones said that rebounding the ball on both ends of the floor remains an issue, something that hurt them in the Holiday Classic. Still, they got the board when they needed it as Jake Lisicky hauled down a big defensive board in a crowd.
“We hung around long enough to figure it out,” said Jones.
Heading into the overtime, senior Kevin Virgo played a big role, running the point as he stayed patient while looking to set up his teammates for the go-ahead bucket. That paid off as he set up Boatwright for the lane jumper which gave them a 62-60 lead in the second overtime. Virgo then iced the game at the line, sinking three buckets to help seal the two-point win.
Virgo’s ability to stay calm in crouch time helped lift the Zephyrs to their third win of the season. That was clearly evident at the charity stripe.
“I just try to tell myself it’s just like practice,” said Virgo who finished the game with eight points. “I just go up there and shoot my free throws with no pressure, and don’t think about it or everything that’s going on around you.”
While they didn’t play as well as they wanted from the outset, Virgo said that he had to remind them at halftime that they needed to stay positive and keep plugging away.
“I just kept telling our guys that we’re still in this game, that this game’s not over,” said Virgo. “In the second half we really limited our turnovers, and in the overtime we were real patient, and that classic Whitehall offense where we were real patient paid off.
Virgo said that they got contributions off the bench down the stretch, and just stayed focus on getting back in the contest in the final period.
“It just worked out perfect in then second half,” said Virgo.
As a senior, Virgo said that he’s trying to get the team ready for next season. With just four seniors on the team, he said it’s important to help them build a good foundation for the upcoming season.
With two wins in their last three games, Virgo sees this team making strides. They’re becoming more comfortable.
“We all know how each other play,” said Virgo. “I feel comfortable with these guys.”
Virgo didn’t get a lot of playing time last season with a senior-laden team, but this season he feels that they’re begging to gel.
“We love each other; we play for each other; we grew up together and we hang out all the time,” said Virgo.